Topless Turkey Burgers

burgerasparagus_40 Tomorrow I am planning an epic day of cooking with my older sister. We have a list of freeze-capable recipes we are making for a friend, who is about to have twins and will most likely need a stockpile of meals. Because I don’t think we will be doing the traditional BBQ activities, I made these turkey burgers this week to put me in the festive mood for the Memorial Day weekend.

This first burger appearance on the blog is not meant to suggest that I always prefer turkey over a luxe combination of beef products. I’m a true lover of the beef burger arts. I don’t often make burgers at home, but when I do, I prefer turkey (insert Most Interesting Man in the World Meme).

I’ve made plenty of turkey burgers, meatballs and meatloaves in my day, and I’m keeping these burgers in my repertoire because they have the optimum levels of spice, heat and bite from the onions and garlic. They are awesome for a weeknight dinner, weekend BBQ and the patties freeze well when wrapped tightly in plastic. I used the 93 percent lean turkey because I think even turkey burgers need a bit of fat to be flavorful, but you could use the ultra lean stuff is you like. I also used whole spices that I ground with a mortar and pestle first, a step that may seem fussy but I think adds much more smokey flavor. I like to chop all of the burger-enhancing ingredients in a food processor, because I like how the onions, garlic, peppers and spices become so fine that they blend into the patty. No big chunks of onions here. You can of course chop these ingredients by hand, just make sure to take a little extra time to make the pieces very small.

For toppings, I use a fat-free black bean dip from Trader Joe’s, red onion, sliced tomato and arugula. I really like how the tangy bean dip compliments the smoky spices and cilantro, and also adds some moisture to the final product (since turkey burgers have a tendency to become dry). These burgers would also be great with some pickled red onions, avocado and chopped spinach. Enjoy the long weekend!

Topless Turkey Burgers

Adapted from Bon Appetit Spicy Turkey Burger recipe

Makes about 6 patties

1 ½ lbs ground turkey

1/2 cup minced onion

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 minced garlic cloves

2 teaspoons chopped jalapeño or serrano chile with seeds

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Kosher salt


6 mini whole wheat pitas

Fat-free black bean dip

Red onion, sliced

Tomato, sliced


Combine onion, garlic,  jalapeño or serrano chile, cilantro, coriander, cumin, paprika, and black pepper in a food processor. Pulse until the onions are finely chopped and the ingredients are incorporated.

Add the vegetable and spice mixture to a bowl with the ground turkey and use a fork to combine.

Form into patties about the size of your palm. Season with salt and pepper.

Grill patties over medium-high heat for about 5-7 minutes per side, until they are cooked through.

To finish the burgers, lightly toast the mini pitas and spread a tablespoon of black bean dip on each one. Place a burger patty on each pita, and top with red onion, tomato and arugula. Serve immediately.

Turkey Burger spicesTurkey burger onionsburgerasparagus_39-CLOSE


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